Easing of COVID flight restrictions means skiers from U.S. have direct access to Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Easing of COVID flight restrictions means skiers from U.S. have direct access to Kamloops

International flights are now allowed at the Kamloops airport, meaning heli-skiers and other private charters from out of country can land in the city.

“Normally this time of year we would see a lot of international, private charters and private aircrafts flying into Kamloops for heli-skiing so that’s where the big difference is,” said Ed Ratuski, managing director of the Kamloops airport.

As of today, Feb. 28, private charters no longer have to stop in Calgary before heading to Kamloops, he said. This also lessens the restrictions for corporate aircraft as well.

The airport doesn’t directly track private flights, but during the holidays and on long weekends, there are roughly five or six flights a day bringing people to ski destinations from the U.S.

It is an important announcement as these people are providing and doing business in the region, he said. There is still the full vaccine requirement and rapid antigen tests have to be conducted, Ratuski said.

“We are heading into spring break, so that’s one thing with the fight loosening of the testing requirements, that’s always a good thing too,” he said.

Passenger numbers in Kamloops were close to their pre-pandemic season, reaching 90% of regular numbers in December 2021. They also saw an uptick due to floods, before the highway closures in November.

As of now, the airport is currently sitting at 60% of what it was compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

There are no commercial passenger flights from abroad to and from the Kamloops airport. In Kelowna, international flights have been allowed since November 2021 with service beginning in December with flights to Alaska, said airport director Sam Samaddar.

Currently, 18 Canadian airports are permitted to welcome international passenger flights. Starting today, flights will be permitted to land at all open Canadian airports designated by the Canada Border Services Agency (more than 20 additional airports in total) to receive international passengers, according to a Canadian Ministry of Tourism announcement.

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